This report aims to map the small arms control practices in five countries of the Black Sea region (which, for the purposes of the report, include Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine). This is the area which has been serving as one of the hubs for arms proliferation, with both legal and illegal arms transfers taking place.
The report focuses on SALW production, stockpile security, and control mechanisms in each of the Black Sea region countries. The purpose of the paper is therefore to highlight each country’s SALW situation as well as their strengths and weaknesses in arms control efforts, and to specify the gaps that exist between policy and practice in order to enhance control measures.
Although all the Black Sea countries covered in this paper have produced significant amounts of weapons in the past, nearly all of them have reduced their weapons production, due to economic strain and difficulties. The more worrying issue in most countries is the status of surplus arms and stockpile management. They all contribute to global small arms problem as sources of supply.
However, all the countries have attempted to develop and implement SALW control procedures. The enforcement of arms trade laws and regulations vary throughout the Black Sea region. All countries have had some success with the seizure of weapons and arrest of arms traffickers, although the loopholes in the law as well as widespread corruption have allowed criminals to escape punishment. Some officials continue to refuse to accept responsibility for past irresponsible weapons transfers and instead deny that problems continue to exist. Another significant issue remains the secrecy in the arms trade.
The lack of state control in the Transdniester region between Moldova and Ukraine contributes greatly to problems of SALW supply and control. International assistance in the region is required, especially with regard to customs and border control and the resolution of the Transdniester standoff.
Membership of European and Euro-Atlantic institutions (namely, EU and NATO) seems to be a strong motivation for countries such as Romania and Bulgaria, but has little direct impact on the behaviour of Moldova and Ukraine. Ultimately, government officials throughout the Black Sea region cite security concerns (both national and international) as significant reasons for their interests in SALW control. Terrorism also remains a major motivating factor, especially in Turkey. Finally, most countries in the area cite non-proliferation norms and standards as an important reason for their interests in responsible arms trade practices.